Disc Players

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Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 19, 2023
hfnvintageIt may have been bulky with no fewer than ten batteries housed in its brittle case, but this portable player had an ace up its sleeve – its price. How will it shape up today?

When enthusiasts see a product from Crown it's perhaps natural to assume it has come from the American amplifier manufacturer of that same name. Yet this compact CD player from 1987, launched to bring the cost of portable players down to a more affordable level, bears the branding of another company called Crown – the Crown Radio Corporation of Japan.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 02, 2023
hfnoutstandingAs Hegel's previous 'last ever' CD player – the Mohican – gets the chop, the audio world faces a new invasion from the Norwegian longships, courtesy of the Viking...

When Hegel announced its Viking CD player, the phrase 'never say never again' sprung to mind. You don't need to have a particularly long memory to recall the company's previous silver-disc spinner was named Mohican [HFN Oct '16] because – geddit? – it was going to be the last such machine the Norwegian company would make. The format's popularity was seemingly dwindling in the face of music streaming and the vinyl resurgence. Hegel even made commemorative t-shirts for its final fling with CD.

Review: Mark Craven, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Sep 11, 2023
hfnoutstandingOver 40 years have passed since the 8000A amp broke cover, but it's still recognisable in the flagship 9000A, despite LCD screen and DAC on board, and joined by a CD transport

While some manufacturers' product lines can become confusing as models tackling various price points and functionality are launched, relaunched and discontinued, Audiolab has, by contrast, a laser-like focus. It caters very much to the wallet-conscious audiophile, across a clearly delineated stable of amps and players/streamers, which kicks off with its 6000 series and progresses through 7000 and 8300 to the newly launched, flagship 9000 series. This currently comprises two models, auditioned here, but will be joined later this year by another.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Aug 04, 2023
hfnvintageWith full-sized CD players stealing a march on portables in the late 1980s it was left to Sony to step up with a palm-sized marvel of a machine. How would it fare today?

The appearance of portable CD players in the mid 1980s presented buyers with something of a dilemma. Should they purchase a full-width model or one of the mobile machines, almost all of which could easily be connected to a full-sized system? A portable would be more versatile, but a large player would be expected to offer more facilities and better sound quality.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jul 05, 2023
hfnvintageCompact, clever and priced to entice, this quirky little late-'80s machine caught the imagination of those buying into digital for the first time. How does it shape up today?

When Toshiba unveiled its lineup of new CD players in 1986 it was clear the format had come of age. Just three years after the first machines were launched onto the European market they'd gone from being exotic and expensive to something so accessible there was little point in any keen listener not owning one.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 19, 2023
hfnoutstandingDenon has been in existence for 111 years, resolutely supporting CD playback for the last 40. Its latest CD disc spinner handles SACD too, and joins the 1700 series amplifier

The Denon duo in the limelight here are an obvious refresh of the previous generation DCD-1600NE disc player and PMA-1600NE amp, introduced in 2017, rather than entirely new designs. Partly that's because both the £1299 DCD-1700NE and £1699 PMA-1700NE look very similar, if not identical, to their predecessors. The solid construction, metal front fascia that curves to ensure the Denon logo catches the light, the weighty volume knob in the middle of the amp, the old-school tone controls… it's all very par for the course, as is the choice between black or silver colourways.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jun 09, 2023
hfnvintageOffering all the functionality of full-sized components, this petite five-part '90s system took micro to the max, spawning imitations industry-wide. How does it sound today?

The first time I saw a JVC UX-1 it was pictured on the side of a bus. The image was part of an ad that carried the simple message 'All features, Great, and Small'. And this turned out to be true, for the UX-1 micro system had every function imaginable, sounded like 'proper' hi-fi and was tiny.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Apr 18, 2023
hfnvintageAn unashamedly budget machine, this late '80s CD player had a mechanical trick up its sleeve that saw it take the fight to its rivals on price. But how will it shape-up today?

It has been ten years, shy of a month, since a Sanyo product last appeared in the HFN Vintage Review pages. This was the Fisher AD 800 [HFN Apr '13], the company's first ever CD player, which was marketed in the UK under the firm's specialist hi-fi and video brand.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Mar 24, 2023
hfnoutstandingThe final, or should that be first, component in T+A's 200 series quartet is a CD-playing, network-attached media transport that boasts a proprietary 'SYS-Link' connection

After delighting headphone lovers with the HA 200 DAC/amp [HFN Aug '20], which nicely matched the Solitaire P headphones introduced at the same time, T&A has been on a roll. The HA 200 transpired to be just the first in a range of units forming the new 200 series – all compact separates, but all designed to dovetail seamlessly together.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Feb 24, 2023
hfnvintageThis late '80s player may have been built to a price using a DAC suited to portables, but it promised few compromises when it came to sheer sound. How will it shape-up today?

One of the many impressive achievements of the early CD era was the way in which the price of players remained constant, or even fell, as the technology used inside them improved. The first machines were masterpieces, beautifully constructed utilising the best materials and processes. However, it was soon realised that when it came to the basic task of playing a disc, much could be stripped away, and in the years that followed the format's release this was exactly what began to happen.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Jan 24, 2023
hfnoutstandingAVM's flagship all-in-one network/CD music system combines cool-running power with huge flexibility while the top 'Black Edition' features a custom finish and selected tubes

Nowadays there's a wealth of all-in-one units available but AVM was one of the brands to spot the trend early on. That partly explains why, even in an industry that loves extensive model ranges, the company has an impressively large product offering – including five streaming receiver solutions. And there's little concession to price in this range, so the top-of-the-line £14,950 Ovation CS 8.3 model boasts ample power reserves, a full range of streaming capabilities and a slot-loading CD player.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Dec 14, 2022
hfnvintageBelieving portables to be as good as their full-sized rivals, many music lovers sought out the smallest – and this CD player was a compact king. How does it sound today?

Think about portable CD players and the chances are that the Sony Discman [HFN Jul '19] will come to mind. The company's ability to produce enchanting and compelling miniature versions of existing products has been pretty much unequalled, and 'the world's smallest' is a phrase that can often be seen in Sony's vintage catalogues. In comparison, the company's larger models were frequently bland and derivative.

Martin Colloms  |  Nov 18, 2022  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1995
hfnvintageThe company is famed for its giant-killing budget CD players, but what can it do for £3000? Martin Colloms hears one of its high-end machines

Marantz is noted in the UK for its decade-long success in producing a chain of fine CD players at moderate prices. If sometimes contradictory on other matters, the audio press were almost uniform in singing their praises. But the success Marantz has enjoyed in Japan is less well known. By all accounts, high-quality audio remains very healthy there and Marantz engineer Ken Ishiwata has finely honed his skills in creating a range of high-end CD players that have achieved record sales in each directed market niche.

Review: Tim Jarman, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 19, 2022
hfnvintageThe first CD player from the Japanese brand to boast real 'kerb appeal', this mid-'80s machine also inherited key technology from previous models. How does it sound today?

Any early Compact Disc player from Matsushita (Panasonic/Technics) holds a particular fascination. The company was excluded from the top table when the CD format was created, in spite of (or perhaps due to) its pre-eminent position as the world's largest producer of electronic consumer goods.

Review: Jamie Biesemans, Lab: Paul Miller  |  Oct 17, 2022
hfncommendedJust as Marantz's 40n integrated takes its design cues from models of yesteryear, the partnering CD 60 player confirms the brand's commitment to the 'legacy' silver disc

Is there really a CD revival on the horizon? Rolling Stone magazine kicked off the year bristling with optimism about the return of the Compact Disc but, behind the hype, there's little dispute that this physical format offers great lossless fidelity and costs next to nothing secondhand. Until audio hipsters cotton on to the trend, of course... Sound United, owner of the Marantz and Denon brands among others, concurs, which is why it's launching not one but two CD spinners in 2022. We're not going to talk about the entry-level Denon DCD-900NE here, but about the still very affordable £749 Marantz CD 60.

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